Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

The Student Organization Election Primer: How to become President of the Federalist Society, the Ballroom Dance Society, or anything in between. Five steps to winning an election.

I'm trying here to straddle the line between funny and serious...

Step One. Find a large organization where lots of people are eligible to vote in elections, yet only a handful ever do anything besides show up for free food. Journals are especially good at this stuff. Boring activities too, that look good on a resume. People show up, get on an e-mail list, write it on their resume, and then stop going. Rabid political organizations of either end of the spectrum probably don't get points here.

Step Two. Find a way to stand out in some way. Volunteer to do something terribly unenjoyable, like vacuuming the office, or organizing the minutes from past meetings, or repainting the walls. This ensures you get comments at elections like, "She's really dedicated. She even volunteered to mop up the urine after that unfortunate incident with the goat."

Step Three. Suck up to the person who currently has the job you want. "Madam President, do you need someone to help you change the bandage on your wound? I'd be happy to help. We've got so much in common, like our two eyes, ten fingers, and love for this wonderful organization you do such a good job of heading up. Wouldn't it be great if your legacy could continue with the next President being as dedicated as you. But not nearly as pretty, of course."

Step Four. Drag people to elections. Swallow your pride and beg your friends -- who should all be members of this large and relatively useless organization, even if they do nothing for it -- to come to elections and vote for you. If they're good friends, you might even get them to say ridiculously nice things about you that, while not actually lies, could be construed as somewhat misleading. Like, "Every time I was in the office, she was there doing work," from a friend who has never actually been to the office. Or, "I was impressed that she never wanted any credit for that great job she did licking the paper plates clean after the banquet. I didn't even know about it until she sent out that e-mail to the entire organization where she just happened to inadvertently mention it in bold letters."

Step Five. Make friends with the vote counter. There's no easier way to win an election than to make sure the vote counter's on your side and relatively unencumbered by principles of democracy. "It's not fair that all of these people who never show up to meetings get to vote," you can say if your opponent has somehow done a better job on step four than you have. "It's your duty as outgoing president / randomly-chose upperclassman / former aide to a member of the Senate Ethics committee to make sure the election isn't decided by people who don't care about the future of the organization. Think about the consequences."